Microsoft has announced a series of enhancements to its App Hub developer portal as part of the anticipated ‘Mango’ release, which allows Windows Phone 7 developers to publish their apps to consumers in 19 new countries, including South Africa.

The enhancements mean that, in addition to the 16 countries where Marketplace is already supported, developers can now broaden their opportunity for global distribution and competitive app prices.

Clifford de Wit, developer platform lead at Microsoft SA, is calling on all Windows Phone developers to submit Mango apps in August – ahead of the Mango release to market

The new App Hub developer portal allows developers to manage their account, change settings, submit applications and stay up-to-date on Windows Phone, he says.

“The updated App Hub features enhancements such as greater geographic markets for developers, consumers and advertising coverage; new private distribution options; and enhanced application and account management capabilities. We’re making great strides in expanding overall demand for Windows Phone applications.”

Microsoft is offering developers two new private distribution options: beta and targeted distribution. Apps distributed through these private distribution methods can only be downloaded by users using a deep-link and the apps cannot be discovered via browsing or searching in Windows Phone Marketplace.

Beta distribution enables developers to distribute pre-certified apps to a group of up to 100 access-controlled beta testers for up to 90 days. The targeted distribution enables developers to distribute applications through Marketplace in a hidden state, where they are not discoverable via browsing or searching Marketplace.

De Wit says he has no doubt that local developers are in a position to create compelling mobile content for the Windows Phone platform. “We want to attract a new wave of Windows Phone developers ahead of the ‘Mango’ release.”

Other enhancements to the Mango App Hub include better application management, an enhanced developer dashboard, more detailed reporting, a new “Crash Count” report, a streamlined application submission process and new application categories – education, kids & family, and government and politics.